AFRICA JAVELIN CHAMP FOCUSES ON OLYMPICS DESPITE CORONAVIRUS THREAT

RAVICHANDRAN A/L RAJAMANICKAM
NAIROBI, March 23 (Bernama) -- Aged 32, Africa javelin champion Julius Yego knows he has limited time and capacity to win gold at the Olympic Games. In another five years, when the next cycle of the Games will take place, Yego is certain he will be too old to make an impact. Yet he is not certain if the Tokyo Olympic Games will go on as planned from July 24 to August 9 in Japan. The global COVID-19 pandemic has left the Tokyo Olympics on the cusp of cancelation or postponement. However, Yego is not leaving anything to chance; he badly needs to upgrade his silver medal he won in the Rio Games back in 2016 to gold. "I have one mission this season, to win gold. I want it more than before, to add to my career collections," Xinhua news agency quoted Yego as saying on Monday in Nairobi. "The gold is something that I have dreamt of for a long time. Since my breakthrough in Beijing World championships back in 2015, I have dreamt of feeling the texture of the gold medal dangling down my neck." But that chance to compete at the greatest sporting stage may be shuttered in a second should the organisers of the Games and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agree to cancel or postpone the Games because of the coronavirus. Already, Canada has said it will not be sending its athletes to Tokyo. Australia, Britain, France, the United States have all called for the review and postponement of the Games. Yet for Yego, he still holds onto the outside chance, he will be able to raise the bar higher in Tokyo, at least in August. "For sure, it's going to be my last Olympics," Yego added. "I don't want to imagine that there may be a potential postponement or a total cancelation of the Tokyo Games. The 2024 Olympics are still far away, and age is catching up with me. I can't possibly still be competitive in another four years." But even at home, Yego has not been spared the wrath of the coronavirus. Kenyan authorities have cancelled all foreign travel and closed all training camps. Yego, who threw the javelin 87.73m to secure qualification to the Games, trains in Nairobi and has not been spared. He cannot access the Nyayo National Stadium for daily training. "I am adjusting. I have devised my own gym so that I remain fit. I understand and support the directive because we have to fight this pandemic together, but it has really thrown my preparations off in a major way," he said. He had hoped to use the pre-Olympic competition to gauge his preparedness after recovering from injury, but that has not been the case. "Injuries are part and parcel of any sportsman. I have had my share and it eat two seasons of my career. Now I am back, yet this coronavirus is another stumbling block. I will raise the bar, I will get my wish in Tokyo," said the Kenyan javelin star. Yego remains adamant he will be ready for the Games, wherever they are held in 2020 and winning gold is his inspiration. Time will tell if the former world champion will live his dream.

-- BERNAMA